202319 JUN 00
By Emma Hibbs, PA News
Thousands of multiple sclerosis suffers may face a future without access to the drug interferon on the NHS, according to reports by the BBC tonight.
However, the Government's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) stressed no decision had been made and any claims were speculation.
The BBC's Nine O'clock News said a confidential preliminary ruling from Nice advised the NHS should stop prescribing interferon to new MS sufferers.
The programme said it had learned the Institute had concluded the drug has only marginal benefits for some MS patients and that money would be better spent on other forms of treatment such as physiotherapy and rehabilitation services.
Those currently receiving the drug would not be affected.
It suggested medical experts have decided there was not enough evidence to support the general use of the drug, which patients say reduces the number and severity of attacks.
A spokeswoman for Nice said: "The BBC are speculating in a very early stage of the process.
"We consult widely with patient groups, which put us in touch with sufferers, doctors, nurses, professionals at national level, and the drug manufacturers."
She said a decision would not be made on the drug until August.
The BBC says those who currently receive the drug would go on receiving it, but up to 8,000 more who might have been eligible would have to pay for it themselves.